It's only a couple weeks away and they didn't have a twitter presence, so I offered. I set it up. They said thanks. I'm hoping some more people will come. Maybe some more people will know each other. Maybe some more people will see how great Everett is. Maybe some more people will see the world a little differently because of a film they see. Maybe I'll meet some people who are hungry for living differently in the way of Jesus in community here in Everett? I hope. At very least, I did something to help someone make something good happen.
Most days early in this process are like this. You have to take the little wins. The wins that maybe aren't even wins. Other things I did yesterday included seeing if I could collaborate with an organization over Lent only to find out that I probably can't. I also tracked down a good article on why church planting is so slow these days. Part of my accomplishments was finding a paper to explain why I have few accomplishments.
Today, I walked with a woman through a pea patch she started. It's actually really cool. Way back in the day, in the small window between when Everett was - as too many terrible stories all over North America go - taken from the Snohomish Tribe (through some lies, unfulfilled - to this day - treaties, and the somewhat intentional spread of disease) and when (through some other stories of mixed good and lack of ethics) Everett became a city...in that brief space of time, Everett was mostly a big farm. This woman started a pea patch 20 years ago to commemorate the founding of this city. There are still some trees on the outskirts of downtown from that original farm. I hope 100 years from now, there will still be memories from this pea patch that is almost literally in my back yard. So today I walked through the pea patch with this lady and told her "Thanks! This is great! I'm so glad you are here. How can I help?" Luke and I are going to take over a patch. We might also paint their shed and/or fix the decaying compost boxes.
Later today, I'm going to a conversation on composting and hoping to find ways to collaborate with local apartment-dwellers on creative solutions to the compost question. Then Luke and I are going to a Belgian Beer Festival at the oldest pub in town.
I enjoy all these things. But they aren't what I had in mind with church planting. They are not what most people have in mind. They are not the stories I want to pull out to impress people with how successful we are. They are not the stories I want to tell myself when I'm laying in bed fighting the anxiety that likes to meet me at my pillow and keep me up chatting all night.
But they are the stories I have.
I have this growing inkling that the church is going through puberty. The big C Church. Our little c church is still a fetus. But the big C Church is going through some sort of puberty.
The things that worked for us recently don't anymore. Like a kid tripping on his suddenly huge feet and squawking a song he once perfected - as a new voice he doesn't even recognize as his own replaces the one he'd always known: we've just got to try new notes until we find the right one.
Words like success don't mean much in puberty. Survival. That's it. Get scrappy. Try new things. Laugh at yourself - often. Know there's something else coming. Know you're transforming. Make peace that you have no real idea who you'll be and what you'll look like when you get spit out at the other side of this crazy ride.
The Church is becoming something beautiful. I believe that. But it's going to get awkward, uncoordinated, messy, shrill, withdrawn, angsty (Lord is it angsty), emotional, confused and pimply on the way.
So where the success I might have expected by this time in the process was six individuals or families that want to live this different Gospel life with us in a way that welcomes our neighbors into a world of Shalom...what I got yesterday was a Twitter account for a film festival and a neighbor who knows I support their work to bless our neighborhood. That's the story I have and it's the story I will intentionally tell with joy and not anxiety - with pride and not shame - with hope and not discouragement.
I know many others trying to do this Jesus thing differently struggle with these small - microscopic even - stories. I've heard them. I've loved them. I've seen how hard it can be to let small be good. So, if you have a story and are willing, I'd love to hear the microscopic stories of starting little c churches while the big C Church is in puberty...
Share them in the comments so we can be pimply kids with cracking voices growing into something wonderful together?